A clinical trial has shown an artificial antibody to give ‘substantial’ relief to hay fever sufferers.
The trial involved 536 patients aged between 12 and 75 years who were affected by ragweed pollen. The participants were injected with the antibody “omalizumab”* or a placebo. Those injected with the antibody had far fewer of the usual symptoms and reported to have less time off work and fewer visits to the doctor as a result relief from hay fever.
Omalizumab is from the family of ‘monoclonal’ antibodies which are a fairly new class of drug. They are being developed for a range of conditions including cancer and organ transplant rejection.
This is one of the first times a monoclonal antibody has been trialed with a chronic, non life-threatening disease. It will now be interesting to compare omalizumab with standard treatments (such as antihistamines) and to see if it would be effective in treating asthma.
*Omalizumab is a monoclonal antibody which blocks the action of a molecule called immunoglobulin E (IgE), the major culprit behind allergic conditions like hayfever. IgE, which is a natural antibody, triggers symptoms like streaming eyes, runny nose, and sneezing because it is key to the inflammatory process.